Amazon Improving

3 ways Amazon is improving Alexa on your Echo – CNET


Amazon Echo and Alexa are getting new features.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you’re ready for new Amazon Echo and Alexa updates, you’ll be excited to know that Amazon is working with developers to create a better experience for you. At its Alexa Live 2020 event on July 22, Amazon announced 31 new developer features that’ll help give you a more “natural” experience with Alexa — but we’re most excited about three of them.

The newest tools will help you better interact with Alexa and your smart home devices, as well as have a better experience with apps such as Twitter and TikTok. The new features are available to developers now (some in beta), so it’s possible you’ll see them incorporated on your device in the months ahead. Here are three new features coming to your Amazon Echo and Alexa voice assistant.

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Alexa Conversations

Alexa Conversations, currently in beta for developers, will help the way you interact with Alexa by making the voice bot more conversational. The developers will have the ability to add dialog to any given command you may make. For example, if you say “Alexa, ask Roomba to start vacuuming,” Alexa may ask if you’d like the robot vacuum to avoid certain rooms.

Alexa for Apps

A new feature coming to iPhones ($699 at Apple) and Android is called Alexa for Apps. This tool will allow you to search inside an app using Alexa. For example, you can say, “Alexa, ask Twitter to search for #StimulusChecks.” The voice assistant will then open the Twitter app on your phone with a list of results you can browse through. Also, if you book a ride through the Uber skill, Alexa will ask if you want to see the driver’s location on a map in the app.

Amazon says Alexa for Apps is also being added to other apps like TikTok, Yellow Pages, Sonic, Zynga and more.

Alexa will have more ways to interact with you

Alexa’s multimodal function means you’ll see an upgrade in the way you interact with the voice assistant on your Echo Show and Fire TV displays — specifically visually. New gestures will be incorporated into the devices, such as single-finger drag, swipe to delete and long press gestures, for example. You’ll also see new editable text boxes where you can input a text response by touch or TV remote.

Alexa-responsive components will also be an option where a linear or circular progress bar is displayed so you can see activity in progress, like loading a page. 

Amazon has also recently released other features for its Echo speaker and Alexa assistant, like this one that lets you go hands-free in the Alexa app. You can also now drop in on all your Amazon Echo speakers at the same time. There are still issues you may experience with your device, however, like these eight frustrating Amazon Echo problems — which have surprisingly easy solutions.

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Improving ventilation

Improving ventilation in buildings could help reduce spread of coronavirus, study says – CBS News

Updated Jun 16, 2020 7:03 PM EDT

There’s new information about the simple tools you can use to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. A new study finds that in parts of the U.S. where face masks are mandatory, as many as 450,000 cases have been prevented. Meanwhile, another study finds that improving ventilation significantly lowers the amount of time respiratory droplets stay airborne.

Experts say crack a window or open a door because the coronavirus can float through the air indoors.

When we cough or sneeze, droplets containing the virus can travel, with larger ones traveling up to about 6 feet. But smaller ones — particles called aerosols — can float invisibly through an entire room, and can be produced through normal speech.

Dr. Kimberly Prather of UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography has spent her career studying aerosols.

“The zinger for this virus is that basically the aerosols become airborne … and potentially infectious through hours. And so if … the aerosols … fills a room and everybody breathes that air, that just opens up the number of people who can be infected,” she said.

Aerosols could help explain events like a choir practice in Washington state in March, where one person likely infected 52 others.


Joe Allen, director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings Program and a ViacomCBS consultant, weighed in on aerosols.

“We’re not recognizing the potential for airborne,” he said. “Opening up the windows is easy and cheap. But what about actually changing the ventilation system of a big building?”

“I’m not saying people have to go out and revamp their entire mechanical system,” Allen explained. “Bring in a bit more outdoor air, which most building systems can do. And if you’re recirculating air, you need to improve or put in a higher efficiency filter. In fact, every building can be a healthy building. It doesn’t cost that much to get us there.”

New research suggests sunlight can deactivate the virus in aerosols and wearing a mask is another crucial layer of protection against the airborne spread of the virus.

For tonight’s @CBSEveningNews, we spoke with @KimberlyPrather, a PhD studying aerosols at @UCSanDiego. Her work is extremely relevant to understanding how to reduce the spread of the #SARS-CoV-2. For a deeper dive, check out this longer video. #Covid_19

— Jonathan LaPook, M.D (@DrLaPook) June 16, 2020

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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